Ex-senator Leticia Ramos-Shahani passes away

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2017 08:18 AM | Updated as of Mar 20 2017 11:06 AM

Former senator Leticia Ramos Shahani. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - (2nd UPDATE) Former senator and veteran diplomat Leticia Ramos-Shahani passed away on Monday, her family said. She was 87.

Ramos-Shahani, a sister of former president Fidel Ramos, expired at the intensive care unit of St. Luke's Medical Center in Taguig City at 2:40 a.m., where she had been confined for a month.

Her family is "bereft and full of grief, but still strangely peaceful in the knowledge that she is now free from all suffering," daughter Lila Shahani said.

The former senator acquired infections and pneumonia. She was supposed to undergo chemotherapy for Stage 4 colon cancer.

Her passing was earlier confirmed by former Ramos Cabinet official Ben De Leon.

In an interview with ANC's "Headstart," Lila recalled that before her mother slipped into a coma, she was her usual "very, deeply philosophical person" even toward her nurses.

"About two weeks ago, when she was still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, she would interrogate her nurses about her condition," she said.

"She would say, ‘well, it depends on what you mean by the word how, and what you mean by are, and relative to what'," added Lila, remarking that her mother was"very intellectual even when she was so ill and she was quite funny."

Lila recalled that although her mother poured her all to her work at the start, she eventually learned to value family.

"She (Leticia) was educated in this sort of 1970s feminist tradition that you give your all to your work and she didn’t have so much time with her kids when we were growing up. But as the years went by, she gradually realized that in addition to work, there was family," said Lila.

"I learned from her the importance of serving the country, serving the public good, the global commons, but also appreciating family," she added.

Lila said her mother had a lot of tenacity, and although her illness "demoralized" her family, she never let it get her down.

Their family will hold a six-day wake for the late stateswoman, beginning Wednesday.

She will be at Funeraria Paz in Sucat on the first day, and will be brought to the Senate and the Department of Foreign Affairs on the second and third day respectively, before being brought back to the funeral parlor until the sixth day.

Ramos-Shahani was elected senator in 1987. During her stint in the Senate, she chaired the committees on foreign affairs, education, culture and arts, and agriculture. She was also a member of the Commission on Appointments.

JUNKING THE U.S. BASES, CHAMPIONING WOMEN’S RIGHTS

She was one of 12 senators who voted against the renewal of the military bases treaty with the U.S. in September 1991, which paved the way for the ouster of the U.S. military bases in the country.

She headed various committees in the Senate, such as the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Committee on Education, Culture and Arts, and Committee on Agriculture. She became president pro tempore in 1992 until 1996.

Among the most notable laws she authored for the benefit of the Filipino women were the “Shahani Law,” which sought to address gender discrimination at the workplace; the Anti-Rape Law of 1997; the Rape Victim Assistance and Protection Act of 1998; and a law providing for the five percent gender and development budget allocation for all government agencies.

Until 2004, she served as the presidential adviser on culture and as the chairperson of the Committee on Culture of the UNESCO National Commission.

She was commissioner and chair of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women.

Last August, President Rodrigo Duterte appointed her as member of the Board of Directors of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan.

Ramos-Shahani was married to Ranjee Shahani, an Indian writer and professor with whom she has 3 children.

NOTABLE STATESWOMAN

The Lingayen, Pangasinan native was also a former dean of the Graduate School of Lyceum of the Philippines and a former faculty member of the University of the Philippines from 1954 to 1957, Queens borough Community College, New York in 1961, Brooklyn College, New York in 1962 and New School for Social Research, New York from 1962 to 1967.

From 1981 to 1986, she served as ambassador to Australia, and was appointed Secretary-General of the World Conference on the United Nations Decade of Women in Nairobi, Kenya in 1985.

Ramos-Shahani left her UN post and returned to the Philippines to become the deputy minister for Philippine Affairs after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

She graduated elementary and high school at the University of the Philippines. She finished her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at Wellesley College in Massachusetts and her Master in Comparative Literature at Columbia University in New York. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Comparative Literature after defending her doctoral thesis with highest honors.